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THE U.S. AND ISRAEL: LASTING LEGACIES?

by Terry Walz, CNI Staff Friday, Sep. 29, 2006 at 11:40 PM

The failure of the U.S. government as well as the Israelis to talk with leaders of governments they disagree with underlines the acute paucity of diplomacy being exercised at the current time, which can only jeopardize in the long run the security of ordinary people both in the Middle East and in the United States. It is time for governments to listen to their people, to start talking and stop preaching.

The failure of the U.S. government as well as the Israelis to talk with leaders of governments they disagree with underlines the acute paucity of diplomacy being exercised at the current time, which can only jeopardize in the long run the security of ordinary people both in the Middle East and in the United States. It is time for governments to listen to their people, to start talking and stop preaching.

THE U.S. AND ISRAEL: LASTING LEGACIES?

September 28, 2006

By Terry Walz, CNI Staff



In the last 72 hours of Israel's deliberately extended war on Lebanon, toward the middle of August when it was clear that a U.N. ceasefire would come into effect, the Israeli Air Force dropped more than a thousand cluster bombs over southern Lebanon, leaving behind a "lasting legacy" for the people of South Lebanon. These bombs had been largely supplied by the United States, and thus Americans too played a part in creating this dreadful aftermath.

The "lasting legacy" is spelled out by Anthony Shadid in an article on the front page of the September 26, 2006 Washington Post entitled "In Lebanon, a War's Lethal Harvest: Threat of Unexploded Bombs Paralyzes the South." Each of the cluster bombs that were rained down on Lebanon contained thousands bomblets the size of soda cans, that if picked up or brushed can cause immeasurable damage – loss of life or limb.

"It's impossible for me to work out what the logic was," Shadid quoted David Shearer, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon. "To me, it just seems outrageous that it would happen as it did." Quoting Chris Clark, the UN Mine Action Coordination Center, "What are seen as strikes on top of strikes on top of strikes on top of strikes. It's tantamount to shooting a dead body 20 times."

The bomblets are scattered over a large area that now includes 540 villages, and are found on the ground, in the trees and orchards, on streets and around houses. Women and children who have returned to southern Lebanon after having fled the region during the Israeli attack are now afraid to venture outside their homes. Already 16 Lebanese have died from the cluster bomblets and 90 have been wounded.

Extraordinary though it seems, the use of cluster bombs is not, strictly speaking, contrary to international law – and Israelis have been quick to point that out – but the United States banned the sale of them to Israel for seven years after they had been used in the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The indiscriminate killing of civilians is a war crime. They were used in Kovoso and in Iraq, where they continue to provide a lasting legacy of the wars those countries have faced. The State Department is currently investigating whether Israel violated agreements with the United States on their use during this recent war. Yet some pro-Israel congressmen, including Shelley Berkley (D-NV), sent a letter to the State Department asking that the investigation be dropped.

The lasting legacy of the US in the Lebanon war relates directly to its refusal to interfere with Israel's pursuit of the war, and to hold it accountable for the mounting civilian deaths and destruction of Lebanon infrastructure in no way associated with Hezbollah, the party that triggered the conflict. Since the beginning of the year, when the Palestinians freely elected Hamas to a majority in their Legislative Council, the U.S. has walked in lockstep with the Israeli government in an effort to punish the Palestinians for their vote. It has refused to pressure Israel to be more understanding, and indeed has followed its lead in blocking delivery of aid to the Palestinian Authority. The Israel Lobby for its part has ensured that Congress approve the anti-Palestinian attitude of the Israelis by passing its own stringent resolutions.

Eight months later, the plight of the Palestinians remains unattended, unheard. Recent reports by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the suffering of ordinary people, the collapse of the economy, the lack of medicines and food, the shutting down of border crossings, the inability of the PA to pay teachers and the police, and the often random killing of civilians—now close to 300 since late June when an Israeli soldier was kidnapped – goes unappreciated by the U.S. and many of its European allies. Yet it is widely understood that the growth of despair and hopelessness in Gaza and the West Bank will gravely complicate any efforts to bring peace to the area.

Even Israelis, according to a recent poll reported in the September 27, 2006 issue of Haaretz, believe their government should be speaking to Hamas. 67% of the Israelis polled thought a dialog should be taking place with a national unity government, and 56% thought it should be talking to a Hamas-led government. During a tour of the Palestine and Israel in January, a team from the Council National Interest Foundation talked at length with Hamas leaders and found them willing to engage in dialog as long as the Israelis showed themselves serious negotiators.

The failure of the U.S. government as well as the Israelis to talk with leaders of governments they disagree with underlines the acute paucity of diplomacy being exercised at the current time, which can only jeopardize in the long run the security of ordinary people both in the Middle East and in the United States. It is time for governments to listen to their people, to start talking and stop preaching.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 27 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
End zionist bigotry Matt Friday, Sep. 29, 2006 at 11:41 PM
Neturei Karta Becky Johnson Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 2:03 AM
smear, smear, smear hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 2:31 AM
Becky keeps claiming she's not Jewish TW Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:07 AM
Stranger things have happened "Nefesh yehudi" Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:12 AM
Discrepancy in Accounts Becky Johnson Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 12:33 PM
Not a smear--just missing information Becky Johnson Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 12:46 PM
definition of smear hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 1:19 PM
Wrong, wrong and wrong again Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 1:34 PM
"calling for peace" no justice, no peace Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 1:55 PM
No peace no state Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 2:03 PM
I've got issues with this Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 2:11 PM
zionist's call - death to peace hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 2:29 PM
Duh. Counting doesn't count Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 2:44 PM
words and thoughts verses actions hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:06 PM
Yo, Hex hexi-gone Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:14 PM
So .... show us Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:15 PM
peace above all else - says it all hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:47 PM
Uh oh... Hex evades the topic of their visit to Iran hexi-gone Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 3:52 PM
all talk and no action make hex a dull lad Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 4:01 PM
a dull lad - yepper hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 4:30 PM
Talk about diversion and distraction! hexi-gone Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 4:42 PM
First justice, then peace straw man Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 4:49 PM
radio is so lame - chat in the sandbox is where it's at ! hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 5:02 PM
Unbridled delusion hexi-gone Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 5:11 PM
oh so you DO think it's successful :) hex Saturday, Sep. 30, 2006 at 5:28 PM

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